One in 14 UK workers are not receiving their full legal holiday entitlement, with more women than men missing out and one million people not getting any paid holiday at all.
According to a TUC analysis published today (22 July), nearly two million employees are not getting the minimum paid leave they are entitled to, with education, retail and health and social care the sectors where the highest numbers of staff are losing out. High numbers of women work in these sectors proportionally and the analysis found that women workers (8.3%) are worse affected then men (5.9%). One million did not enjoy any paid leave whatsoever.
Employment tribunals have seen a doubling of cases involving unpaid holiday leave since 2017 but this may be explained by the the abolition of fees in that year. Most holiday pay cases were found in the claimant’s favour, the study found, with most settlements being of a few hundred pounds. The highest award was of £11,000, however.
Employees are entitled to 28 days’ annual leave (pro rata) including public holidays.
The TUC found that the main reasons people were missing out on holiday pay were that workloads were unrealistic, employers were deliberately denying holiday requests and managing out people’s leave, and organisations were failing to keep up to date with the law.
Minimum holiday entitlements were a vital part of reducing overwork, said the TUC, which also emphasised that people who worked excessive hours were at risk of developing heart disease, stress, mental illness, strokes, and diabetes, which also impacted on co-workers, friends, relatives and the NHS.
HMRC ought to be granted new powers to clamp down on employers who deny staff their statutory holiday entitlement, the analysis stated. This would include the power to ensure that workers are fully compensated for missed holidays.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady pointed to the comparatively long hours worked by UK workers compared with many European counterparts and added: “British workers put in billions of pounds worth of unpaid overtime as it is. Employers have no excuse for robbing staff of their leave.
“The government must toughen up enforcement to stop bosses cheating working people out of their holidays. And ministers must not resurrect tribunal fees which stopped people enforcing their rights.”
A year ago the TUC published figures showing that one in 12 were not receiving their full holiday pay, so the figure has fallen significantly over the past 12 months. Agriculture and retail were then cited as the two worst sectors in this regard. A spokesperson for the TUC said: “This slight improvement can in part perhaps be attributed to the removal of tribunal fees, and overall also partially because of the trend of employers increasingly ‘doing the right thing’.”